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Film Review: The Boxer from Shantung 馬永貞(1972) - Hong Kong (Shawscope Volume 1)

Andrew Chan

Film Review: The Boxer from Shantung 馬永貞(1972) - Hong Kong (Shawscope Volume 1) (Arrow Video)

 Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)

"The Boxer from Shantung," directed by the legendary Chang Cheh, is a captivating martial arts drama that transports viewers to the gritty world of 1920s Shanghai. Chen Kuan Tai delivers a powerful leading performance as Ma Yongzhen, showcasing his imposing physical presence and intense screen presence. Chen's portrayal of Ma's transformation from an innocent newcomer to a resilient fighter is emotionally charged and convincingly executed, keeping the audience thoroughly engaged.

The film gains further intrigue with David Chiang's intriguing cameo as Tan Si, injecting unexpected tension and complexity into the narrative. Chiang's on-screen chemistry with Chen Kuan Tai is palpable, leaving viewers yearning for more scenes featuring these talented actors together.

Director Chang Cheh's masterful storytelling and meticulous attention to detail breathe life into 1920s Shanghai. The film effectively captures the stark divide between the wealthy and the impoverished, showcasing the opulence of the city's elite and the squalor of its slums. Chang's direction, paired with the film's well-executed fight sequences, creates an immersive experience where every punch and kick feels visceral, heightening the sense of danger and excitement.

In summary, "The Boxer from Shantung" is a gripping martial arts drama that excels in multiple aspects. Chang Cheh's skillful direction and attention to detail make this film a must-watch for genre enthusiasts. With its potent blend of action, drama, and social commentary, "The Boxer from Shantung" stands as a testament to the enduring power of underdog stories.

I rated it 8/10

Reviewed as part of Shawscope Volume 1 Limited Edition Blu Ray Set (Digitally restored in 2K format)

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